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Section 301 Tariff Refund: Eligibility and How to Apply

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The USTR has reinstated 352 exclusions to Section 301 tariffs, making importers of those goods eligible for refunds. Learn how a customs broker can help you take advantage and recover the maximum amount.
By
Josh Kimble
April 8, 2022
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Last Modified: June 16, 2022

For importers looking to secure Section 301 tariff refunds, there are important details that need to be considered. The good news is that getting a refund on duties you’ve previously paid is possible. However, eligibility is limited and the process involves some complex work. The effort is well worth it though, especially for large importers that can recover millions of dollars in duties.

To obtain a Section 301 tariff refund, importers first need to confirm their products are eligible for a tariff exclusion. Next, a Post Summary Correction (PSC) needs to be submitted to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), along with supporting documentation. CBP reviews the request and notifies the importer whether or not it’s approved.

Our guide below provides you with an in-depth look at the Section 301 tariff refund process. We explain how to determine eligibility, as well as what steps you need to go through. Lastly, we explain the importance of enlisting the help of a licensed customs broker to ensure the process is smooth and is more likely to end up with you receiving the refund you deserve.

March 2022 Update

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on March 23, 2022 that 352 of the 549 eligible exclusions for the Section 301 tariff refund would be reinstated. The majority of exclusions had previously expired on Dec. 31, 2020.

The reinstated exclusions will apply retroactively to October 12, 2021 and will last until December 31, 2022. Importers of goods that have been reinstated can apply for a refund of any 301 tariffs they paid, regardless of whether or not they applied for the original exclusion.

The reinstatement of these product exclusions was made after consideration of both public comment and discussion with numerous other government agencies.

The remaining products which were not reinstated will continue to be subject to 7.5% and 25% tariffs as outlined by the USTR.

For more information on all Section 301 extensions, check out our article on the Benefits of the 301 Tariff Exclusion Extension.

Which Products Affected by Section 301 Tariffs are Eligible for a Refund?

Documentation referring to Section 301

Currently, there are 352 exclusions eligible for a tariff refund. These products can find their classifications in Chapters 84, 85, 86 and 90 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

The goods covered include various electronics, appliances, machinery, motorcycles, furniture, fabrics, clothing, meat and seafood, and chemicals, among other commodities.

In accordance with Section 301, all products subject to the tariffs are divided up between four separate lists. The number of reinstated exclusions that qualify for a refund are as follows:

  • List 1: 89 exclusions
  • List 2: 34 exclusions
  • List 3: 187 exclusions
  • List 4: 42 exclusions

Previously, the USTR allowed exclusions for 549 products. Of those 549 exclusions, only 352 have been reinstated. 

Total Value of Products Subject to 301 TariffsExclusions Prior to ExpirationReinstated Exclusions
List 1$34 Billion13789
List 2$16 Billion5934
List 3$200 Billion266187
List 4$300 Billion8742

How to Apply for Section 301 Tariff Refund

In order to apply for a Section 301 tariff refund, you have to make sure that you have access to the following:

  • Your product’s HTS code
  • A detailed description of your products
  • A list of your prior entries
  • Access to a customs broker, or status as a CBP-approved self filer

We highly recommend that you work with a Licensed Customs Broker who can ensure all of the information you provide is correct. They can also submit the post summary correction and file for the refund on your behalf. Below, we’ve included a step-by-step guide on how to get started applying for your tariff refund.

Need Help Securing your Section 301 Tariff Refund?
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*After the application is complete, bond approval can be received from CBP within the same day.

Step 1: Match Your Product with its HTS Code

Section 301 tariff refund - stacks of shipping containers with marked with the image of the Chinese flag

There are 352 exclusions that have been reinstated to qualify for a tariff refund. Each exclusion contains products that fall under a specific HTS code. This code provides information such as tariff classification and the description of the product. You must match your product’s code to one of the codes listed under the Section 301 exclusions to see if it qualifies.

Having trouble finding your product’s HTS code, use our HTS code lookup tool to get started.

Step 2: Match Your Product’s Description

According to the USTR, reinstated exclusions are available for any product that meets the description in the product exclusion.

While HTS codes are typically very specific, there are some instances in which a single HTS code may cover multiple products. In that case, the descriptions listed under the HTS code will differentiate between the covered products.

The Section 301 tariff refund does not necessarily apply to every product listed under the HTS codes that qualify for exclusion. Once you match the HTS code for your product, you must match the description of the product to ensure that it qualifies for a tariff refund. 

Additionally, you may only have the 8-digit HTS code for your product, rather than the full 10-digit code. In this case, you must match the description of the product to make sure that it matches the description of a full 10-digit HTS code that is eligible for exclusion.

Step 3: Notify Your Broker

Once you have your product’s information, it’s time to get in touch with a Licensed Customs Broker. 

A broker can ensure that all product and tariff classification information is accurate and can help ensure that each of the remaining steps are performed correctly. 

If you don’t already have a broker, we offer customs brokerage service and can assist you in quickly securing your tariff refund.

Step 4: Complete Power of Attorney (POA)

In order for a customs broker to perform business on your behalf, you must grant them power of attorney. 

Granting power of attorney to your broker gives them the ability to assist you in every step of the customs clearance process. They can submit documentation on your behalf, receive goods at the port of entry, and generally work as an extension of yourself in Customs-related matters.

Giving your customs broker power of attorney is necessary in order to complete the remaining steps to obtain your refund.

Step 5: Obtain a Listing of Past Entries for Refund

View from below a cargo ship, looking up

You can obtain a list of previous entry reports that you’ve made through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). Assuming these entries have not been liquidated - meaning it is within 300 days of date of entry - they will be eligible for the next step.

If the entry has already been liquidated, or is within the liquidation window, the entry will not be eligible for a PSC. Instead, a protest must be filed with CBP.

Step 6: Have Your Broker Submit a Post Summary Correction

Your broker can submit a PSC by submitting the specific exclusion request for your products. A specific exclusion request code must be submitted for each individual entry. This must be submitted electronically.

Step 7: Wait for CBP to Review the PSC

CBP will review the PSC that you submitted and give one of three potential answers: 

  1. Refund approved
  2. Refund rejected
  3. Further information required

If approved, you have no further steps other than to await your refund. If denied, then that means that CBP found reasons that your product does not qualify for a tariff refund.

CBP may also request more information. For whatever reason, CBP may feel that it does not have all of the information necessary to make a ruling on whether or not your product qualifies for a refund. If that happens, CBP will request additional information in order to make a final ruling.

Step 8: Receive Your Refund

Refunds are processed weekly on Fridays and delivered via your Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) account. If you do not already have an ACH account setup, the refund will be sent out by mail in the form of a check.

At USA Customs Clearance, we can help you get started and set up your ACH for free so you can get your money faster.

For more information on Section 301 and duty drawbacks, check out our article Section 301 Duty Drawbacks: A Guide For Importers.

Need Help Securing your Section 301 Tariff Refund?
Quick and Easy Refund
1-on-1 Support
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*After the application is complete, bond approval can be received from CBP within the same day.

Is There a Deadline to Apply?

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Importers can submit a PSC to request a refund up to 15 days prior to the day the entry is scheduled to be liquidated. Liquidation typically occurs within 300 days from the date of entry filing.

If the entry is within the 15 day window prior to liquidation, or if it has already been liquidated, a PSC can no longer be filed. Instead, a protest must be filed within 180 days of the entry’s liquidation.

However, importers can also request to extend the liquidation deadline for their entries. This request can either be submitted on paper or electronically to the appropriate Center of Excellence and Expertise. A customs broker can submit this request on your behalf. 

If the request is approved, the liquidation date will be moved back one year from the scheduled liquidation date. Liquidation extensions can be requested up to three times (no more than three total years).

Once an extension is granted, an importer may file for a product exclusion as normal. If approved, the importer may then file a PSC. If the exclusion is not approved, the liquidation extension will still stand and the entry will be liquidated one year after the originally scheduled date. 

What Happens if My Application is Rejected?

If your request for a Section 301 tariff refund is denied, you can do one of two things:

  1. Accept the determination given by CBP
  2. File a protest with CBP

Obviously, by accepting the rejection made by CBP, the process will end and you will not be granted a refund. 

However, CBP allows importers who disagree with the decisions it makes to file a protest. If you choose this option, you will have the chance to make your case to CBP as to why its decision is incorrect and why you should get a refund. That being said, there is no guarantee (or likelihood) that you will receive your refund by going this route.

It’s worth noting that an importer may also have to file a protest to begin the refund process if their entry has already been liquidated. While the process to file a protest remains the same, this is not the same situation as filing a protest after an application has been rejected.

How Can a Customs Broker Help Obtain a Section 301 Tariff Refund?

A customs broker can help you obtain a refund for 301 tariffs by handling all of the complexity of the refund process and ensuring all information is accurate and submitted on time.

Getting a refund approved is not a simple process. You must provide detailed evidence that the product being requested meets the detailed specifications and ensure that all information included is accurate. Any information that is incorrect or submitted improperly can result in your application being denied or delayed.

CBP has been very aggressive in monitoring the exclusion/refund process. If it feels that the information listed is incorrect or that you have been untruthful, it can conduct a formal investigation. The larger the refund being requested, the more CBP will scrutinize and investigate the refund request.

Additionally, once the PSC is submitted, customs brokers can monitor the status of the request and contact CBP on your behalf. If you don’t already have an ACH setup to receive the refund, they can help you get started so that you can receive your money faster.

You can think of your customs broker as your partner. We understand your imports and know all of the ins and outs of the Customs Clearance process. It’s also worth noting that even if your request is denied or you’re not eligible for a Section 301 refund, we can still identify other opportunities to save on tariffs and import duties.

Get Section 301 Help From USA Customs Clearance

Our team at USA Customs Clearance is committed to helping you obtain the maximum Section 301 tariff refund. We’re experienced in the refund process as we’ve directly helped importers recover millions of dollars in previously paid Section 301 duties.

When you work with us to handle your tariff refund, we keep you updated throughout the entire process. You won’t have to worry about checking in or reaching out to CBP. We’ll even help you setup an ACH duty account with Customs if you don’t already have one. This ensures your refund gets to you as quickly as possible.

Schedule a consulting session with our team today and get your Section 301 tariff refund before it’s too late. 

Need Help Securing your Section 301 Tariff Refund?
Quick and Easy Refund
1-on-1 Support
Personalized Service
*After the application is complete, bond approval can be received from CBP within the same day.
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